Cavalier Johnson (1986- )

Cavalier Johnson in 2022
Cavalier Johnson in 2022
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz (CC0)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mayor Cavalier Johnson was born in the city on November 5, 1986, to Denise Hardwick-Townsend. Additional information about his father, who was a Milwaukee Public Schools janitor, was not available during this search. However, Cavalier is the youngest of 10 siblings. He attended six different Milwaukee Public Schools, and when he was 14, he was selected by the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Sponsor-A-Scholar Program, a pre-college program dedicated to ensuring at least 90 percent of its participants graduate from high school.

Johnson graduated from Bay View High School in 2005. Afterward, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2009.

From 2013 to 2015, Johnson worked in Mayor Tom Barrett’s office as a staff assistant, coordinating outreach efforts and creating and implementing violence prevention strategies. In 2016, he ran for the Milwaukee Common Council and won.

That same year, he married Dominique Johnson, and they had three children: Oliver Johnson, Bella Johnson, and Madison Johnson. Four years later, in 2020, Johnson was re-elected without opposition to the Presidency of the Common Council. During his tenure, Johnson authored 207 pieces of legislation, including a controversial plan to ban conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The proposal passed on a 12-2-1 vote.

Johnson served as acting mayor of the city upon the resignation of Tom Barrett, who was appointed the Ambassador to Luxembourg by U.S. President Joe Biden in 2021. Then, in 2022, Johnson ran for mayor in a special election. Upon his victory, Cavalier Johnson became the 44th chief executive of the City of Milwaukee and the first African American elected in its 176-year history, winning 72% of the vote. Johnson, however, is the city’s second African American mayor, after Marvin Pratt, who was appointed as the acting mayor of Milwaukee in 2004 when John Norquist stepped down.